Here’s a cute little short story, with a sympathetic protagonist, by the master of the short short, Fredric Brown. Mr. Jim Moon, the proprietor and narrator of the Hypnobobs podcast, calls it a “A Micro Tale”, others may call it “Flash Fiction”. Indeed, its brief length and moral teaching probably makes it the perfect story to read before a college mid-term or final exam! But it also has the effect of explaining why any school for magic, like Hogwarts, could never possibly work.
Hypnobobs – Naturally
By Fredric Brown; Read by Jim Moon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcast: August 22, 2011
Henry Blodgett is a terrible math student and knows he’ll fail his upcoming geometry exam. But as a student of black magic he may have found a way out! First published in the September 1954 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction.
Podcast feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Hypnobobs
Here is the accompanying art, by “Stone”, from the original publication:
And here’s the complete text if you’d like to read along:
Naturally by Fredric Brown
Henry Blodgett looked at his wrist watch and saw that it was two o’clock in the morning. In despair, he slammed shut the textbook he’d been studying and let his head sink onto his arms on the table in front of him. He knew he’d never pass that examination tomorrow; the more he studied geometry the less he understood it. Mathematics in general had always been difficult for him and now he was finding that geometry was impossible for him to learn.
And if he flunked it, he was through with college; he’d flunked three other courses in his first two years and another failure this year would, under college rules, cause automatic expulsion.
He wanted that college degree badly too, since it was indispensable for the career he’d chosen and worked toward. Only a miracle could save him now.
He sat up suddenly as an idea struck him. Why not try magic? The occult had always interested him. He had books on it and he’d often read the simple instructions on how to conjure up a demon and make it obey his will. Up to now, he’d always figured that it was a bit risky and so had never actually tried it. But this was an emergency and might be worth the slight risk. Only through black magic could he suddenly become an expert in a subject that had always been difficult for him.
From the shelf he quickly took out his best book on black magic, found the right page and refreshed his memory on the few simple things he had to do.
Enthusiastically, he cleared the floor by pushing the furniture against the walls. He drew the pentagram figure on the carpet with chalk and stepped inside it. He then said the incantations.
The demon was considerably more horrible than he had anticipated. But he mustered his courage and started to explain his dilemma. “I’ve always been poor at geometry,” he began . . .
“You’re telling me,” said the demon gleefully.
Smiling flames, it came for him across the chalk lines of the useless hexagram Henry had drawn by mistake instead of the protecting pentagram.
Posted by Jesse Willis